This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Guy Michael Strohbeen,
The State of Minnesota, et al.,
Filed June 1, 2004
Robert H. Schumacher, Judge
Guy Michael Strohbeen, c/o non-domestick, 3078 Ontario Road, near: Little Canada, MN 55117 (pro se appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Catherine M. Keane, Assistant Attorney General, 1100 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2128 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge; Klaphake, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge
Appellants Jacques Michael Strohbeen and Guy Michael Strohbeen challenge the district court's dismissal of their complaint and grant of summary judgment to respondents State of Minnesota and various employees of the Minnesota Department of Revenue. The Strohbeens argue that the state and its employees are not immune from suit and there are valid security interests that prevented the department of revenue from collecting delinquent taxes. We affirm.
In August 2001, the Minnesota Department of Revenue sent a letter to each of the Strohbeens stating that after review of their individual taxpayer filing records, the department was unable to locate a Minnesota income tax return for 1999, despite having documented income that required the Strohbeens to file income tax returns. After the Strohbeens each submitted a Minnesota Fiduciary Income Tax Return, which the department eventually determined were invalid, the commissioner of revenue issued orders that, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 289A.37 (2000), the department would prepare tax returns for both parties. The orders provided that G. Strohbeen owed $15,410.10 in taxes, penalties, and interest, and J. Strohbeen owed $29,673.01 in taxes, penalties, and interest.
The Strohbeens sent letters to the individual income tax director denying they owed any taxes. The department treated the Strohbeens' responses as an informal appeal and referred the matter to the legal division within the department. In October 2001, the department affirmed its earlier orders that the Strohbeens were individually liable for unpaid taxes from 1999. The department notified the Strohbeens of this determination and informed them that they had 60 days to appeal the matter to the tax court. The Strohbeens did not file an appeal.
The department then sent letters to each of the Strohbeens informing them that they had 30 days to either pay their back taxes or claim an appropriate exemption. The letter indicated that the department could "[l]evy funds from [the Strohbeens'] bank account[s]," could seize their property, and intended to serve the Strohbeens' employer with a notice requiring an additional amount to be withheld from their wages. The letter also informed the Strohbeens that the state could file a tax lien at any time. The Strohbeens did not claim an exemption or pay the amount the department claimed they owed. The department then sent notices of intent to levy the Strohbeens' property and filed a notice of state tax lien providing a lien in favor of the state "upon all property and property rights belonging to the [Strohbeens]."
The department submitted writs of entry to effect levy to the Ramsey County District Court. The district court issued the writs, and the department undertook efforts to execute them. The department located motorcycles belonging to the Strohbeens and informed them that they must either tender payment for the back taxes or their motorcycles would be seized. The Strohbeens paid their full 1999 tax liability. The state released the tax liens.
The Strohbeens sued the state and its employees for "Violation of Minn. Stat. § 270.69 Subdivisions 2 and 13; and for Conversion, and Interference with Contractual Relations." The Strohbeens alleged they suffered "damages, legal costs and expenses" and requested "injunctive relief, replevin of the funds unlawfully seized, damages, and court costs." They submitted affidavits in which they each claim, as a "free inhabitant of the organic state of Minnesota," to be a holder in due course of a security interest in what they claim are federal corporations created by the United States under 28 U.S.C. § 3002 (15)(A) in the names of JACQUES MICHAEL STROHBEEN and GUY MICHAEL STROHBEEN.
The state and its employees filed a motion to dismiss both complaints for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted and for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion, finding that the state and its employees were immune from suit and that there were no genuine issues of fact.
1. The Strohbeens argue that the state and its employees are not immune from suit. We consider this to be the basis for a claim that the district court erred in granting the motion of the state and its employees to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In reviewing cases that were dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, the only question before this court is whether the complaint sets forth a legally sufficient claim for relief. Barton v. Moore, 558 N.W.2d 746, 749 (Minn. 1997).
The district court order does not specifically differentiate between claims that were dismissed and claims on which the district court awarded the state and its employees summary judgment. But the record indicates that the state and its employees made a motion requesting that the Strohbeens' claims for injunctive relief, for damages, and for violation of Minn. Stat. § 270.69 (2000), be dismissed and summary judgment be awarded on the Strohbeens' remaining claim to recover the money they contended was unlawfully seized. The district court granted these motions in favor of the state and its employees.
The Strohbeens have failed to present any argument on appeal demonstrating they are entitled to injunctive relief, and we deem this issue to be waived. See Melina v. Chaplin, 327 N.W.2d 19, 20 (Minn. 1982) (stating issues not briefed on appeal are waived).
The Strohbeens' complaints also allege that they suffered damages as a result of the state and its employees' acts of conversion and intentional interference with contract. The damages the Strohbeens seek arise from the state and its employees' actions in collecting taxes. The Minnesota Tort Claim Act provides that the state and its employees are not liable for "a loss in connection with the assessment and collection of taxes." Minn. Stat. § 3.736, subd. 3(c) (2000). The unambiguous language of section 3.736 prevents the claim for damages in this case. See Mut. Servs. Cas. Ins. Co. v. League of Minn. Cities Ins. Trust, 659 N.W.2d 755, 760 (Minn. 2003) ("[W]here the intention of the legislature is clearly manifested by plain and unambiguous language, [courts] have neither the need nor the permission to engage in statutory interpretation.").
The Strohbeens also asserted a claim for violation of Minn. Stat. § 270.69. Section 270.69 provides the method by which a lien for past due taxes is created and the legal effects and the limits of the lien. There is no provision in section 270.69 that provides for a civil action based on violation of the statute, and the fact that the legislature explicitly provided for a cause of action under Minn. Stat. § 270.70, subd. 12 (2000), indicates that when the legislature intended to provide a cause of action for violations of tax collecting statutes, it clearly enunciated that intent. See Valtakis v. Putnam, 504 N.W.2d 264, 266 (Minn. App. 1993) ("A statute does not give rise to a civil cause of action unless the language of the statute is explicit or it can be determined by clear implication."). We conclude no civil action may be maintained for violation of section 270.69.
2. The Strohbeens also argue the district court erred in granting summary judgment because genuine issues of material fact exist. On appeal from a summary judgment, this court determines whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of the law. Odenthal v. Minn. Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 649 N.W.2d 426, 429-30 (Minn. 2002).
Here, the Strohbeens claim "if they and the business entities, JACQUES MICHAEL STROHBEEN and GUY MICHAEL STROHBEEN, are proven as separate and distinct parties" there is a genuine issue of material fact. Claiming 28 U.S.C. § 3002 (15)(A) (2000), which defines "United States" to include a federal corporation, has somehow created a business entity does not defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather, the Strohbeens must have presented some concrete evidence that their alleged business entities actually do exist. See Bob Useldinger & Sons, Inc. v. Hangsleben, 505 N.W.2d 323, 328 (Minn. 1993). ("Mere speculation, without some concrete evidence, is not enough to avoid summary judgment."). The Strohbeens, however, have not presented any such evidence and thus summary judgment was appropriate.
We note that the Strohbeens' reliance on Minn. R. Civ. P. 9.01 is misplaced. Rule 9.01 provides the procedure for challenging the existence or capacity to sue of a party to the lawsuit. Minn. R. Civ. P. 9.01. It does not, as the Strohbeens claim, shift the burden to the state and its employees to prove that the business entities the Strohbeens claim to have a security interest in do not exist.